Los Angeles, Calif. native Wesley Jonathan entered showbiz at an early age. He currently plays Burrell “Stamps” Ballentine on TV Land’s “The Soul Man.” The hit sitcom’s second season premiered June 19 at 11 p.m. ET/PT. The show revolves around Reverend Boyce “The Voice” Ballentine (Cedric the Entertainer), an R&B superstar-turned-minister who relocated to St. Louis with his family to preach in his father’s church.
Moving seamlessly between comedic and dramatic roles since he was a young child, Wesley has exhibited an impressive range of acting talent. In addition, he’s a gifted and accomplished dancer and athlete, and has starred in countless movies, television shows and commercials.
He made his television debut at 8, appearing on the smash FOX series “21 Jump Street.” He was a series regular on The WB’s top-rated sitcom, What I Like about You, starring Amanda Bynes and Jennie Garth, and on the syndicated Teen NBC series “City Guys.” Since then, he has guest-starred and enjoyed recurring roles on some of the most popular shows on television, including “NCIS,” “Cold Case,” “90210” and “CSI: Miami.”
Kam Williams: Hi Wesley, thanks for the interview.
Wesley Jonathan: Absolutely, Kam! Thank you.
KW: How would you describe your TV sitcom, “The Soul Man,” in 25 words or less?
WJ: In 25 words or less? That’s crazy! Let’s see… The show is about a former R&B singer of very risqué songs who gets the calling to become a minister. And in doing so, he uproots his family from Sin City, Las Vegas, and moves to St. Louis to take over his father’s church. In the process, his family has to make the adjustment from a celebrity’s lifestyle to an uncompromisingly holy lifestyle. It’s a funny show about family, about change, and about making adjustments in your life.
KW: Isn’t Cedric originally from St. Louis in real life?
WJ: Yeah, he is from St. Louis.
KW: Tell me a little about your character, Stamps?
WJ: Stamps is Cedric’s younger brother. He’s a wacky, wisecracking character, and you never know what’s going to come out of his mouth. He doesn’t take life seriously, doesn’t have a job, and is always saying whatever random thoughts come to mind.
KW:. How did you manage to avoid the pitfalls of fame that have ensnared so many other child actors?
WJ: Well, there’s a big difference between being a child actor and being a child star. I was a child actor. I worked a lot as a kid, but the weight that a child star has to bear is far more than that of a child actor. It’s extremely heavy. Secondly, my mother is from a rough area of East St. Louis, and she just wasn’t having any craziness. Third, I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, which was a strict upbringing that helped me stay in line. Drugs and other stuff were never a temptation. I guess I had an old soul.
KW: What was the last song you listened to?
WJ: “Don’t Be Cruel” by Bobby Brown.
KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
WJ: I see a young man who is trying to be seen and appreciated by the masses for his work.
KW: What keeps you grounded?
WJ: What keeps me sane in this insane business is that even on the carpet I’m mostly me. I might smile a lot less in real life, but I know how to adjust to the situation.
KW: If you only had 24 hours to live, what would you do?
WJ: To acquire as much knowledge about Jehovah, God, as possible.
KW: If you could meet any historical figure, whom would you choose?
WJ: Wow! I would say Malcolm X.
KW: How do you want to be remembered?
WJ: As talented, real and loving.
KW: Best of luck with “The Soul Man.”
WJ: Thank you, Kam.
To see a trailer from The Soul Man featuring Wesley’s character, Stamps, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67Ibag26qvM